UPDATE 10:05 pm:
So Israel has signed onto another ceasefire.
Your humble servant and his wife have just emerged from our bomb shelter here in Ashdod. This marks the 100th time since the war began that Ashdod has been targeted. This time, as always, there were large explosions right over our house.
My wife and I would like to take this opportunity to thank PM Netanyahu, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, and IDF Head Benny Gantz for making these trips to our bomb shelter possible. If it weren’t for their utter incompetence, Hamas might well have been finished by now, and we in the South might actually be living normal lives.
Instead of running from incoming terrorist missiles.
UPDATE 9:00 pm:
Remember how your humble servant surmised a few days ago that negotiations between Israel and Hamas were taking place even if Israeli negotiators were not in Cairo.
That turned out to be true.
Remember how your humble servant praised the Israeli government for finally finding some backbone and not negotiating while southern Israel was being fired on.
That turned out to be not true.
A leopard doesn’t change its spots. PM Netanyahu is a compulsive liar when it comes to southern Israel–and perhaps when it comes to a host of other issues as well. It is simply breathtaking how the prime minister can stand in front of the cameras and say with a straight face that there will be no negotiations while we are under fire, and then we find out that those negotiations had been taking place while he was making that statement.
The 7th ceasefire between Israel and Hamas begins at midnight tonight.
Your humble servant will be going to Jerusalem in the next 48 hours along with thousands of other southern Israelis to protest Netanyahu’s duplicity.
**Today, a number of Israeli workers at the Kerem Shalom Crossing were nearly killed by a Hamas mortar shell that exploded beside them as they were trying to facilitate the conveyance of “humanitarian supplies” to Hamas.
**It has been revealed today that in addition to the supposed Palestinian collaborators and protestors against Hamas who have been summarily executed by Hamas, so have “dozens” of Hamas tunnel builders. Hamas apparently was petrified that their tunnel builders would reveal information to Israel after a number were captured a few weeks ago, so they simply took numerous tunnelers out and shot them.
By the way, most of the Hamas tunnel builders are children.
UPDATE 3:30 pm:
The situation in Cairo could not be more confusing at this hour:
1. The Palestinian factions apparently told the Egyptians that they were agreeing to a 72 hour ceasefire.
2. The Hamas spokesman apparently has told the media that the news about the ceasefire was “inaccurate”.
3. Hamas and Islamic Jihad threatened to leave by 3:00 this afternoon (30 minutes ago) unless the Israeli delegation showed up.
4. The Israeli delegation has refused to show up while the terrorists in Gaza are still firing missiles and mortars at Israel.
5. However, Hamas and Islamic Jihad have apparently decided to stick around for an emergency meeting of the Arab League later today.
Meanwhile, the situation in Israel could not be clearer.
There have been 10 separate missile launches against southern Israel today. In the last 30 minutes, there have been two launches at Ashkelon. This means that Hamas is escalating the missile fire to Grad missiles.
UPDATES 8:00 am:
**What seemed like a sure thing last night seems not so sure this morning. Whereas all reports had Israeli negotiators returning to Cairo this morning, their return now does not seem imminent.
Where this sudden burst of renewed principle comes from (could it be the decision yesterday of the Gaza perimeter kibbutzes, expecially Nahal Oz, to tell their citzens not to return to their homes?) your humble servant cannot say, but it appears that there will be no Israeli negotiators in Cairo as long as missile and mortar fire is striking southern Israel.
And that missile and mortar fire continues. There were 12 launches out of Gaza yesterday involving 31 missiles and mortars, and there have already been 3 attacks today (at 3:30 am, 6:13 am, and 6:41 am).
For its part, the Palestinian delegation in Cairo is now issuing hourly press alerts that it is on the verge of leaving. In an Orwellian twist, Hamas and Islamic Jihad are demanding that “Israel return to Cairo immediately without conditions”–in other words, that Israel return to Cairo while under fire. At the same time, Islamic Jihad issued this statement yesterday: “If Israel does not comply with the conditions, then life will not go back to normal for the residents of the Gaza border communities.”
Here’s a news flash for Islamic Jihad: life has not been normal for the Gaza border communities since the day Hamas took over Gaza.
Are the ceasefire talks on the verge of disintegration? That is difficult to say at this hour.
**Whether the talks disintegrate or not, the outline of a future is taking shape.
1. Egypt has agreed to open the Rafah Crossing “on a more permanent basis” under two conditions: (A) Mahmoud Abbas and Fatah take charge of the Palestinian side of the Crossing and (B) any talk of a new Palestinian seaport in Gaza is postponed.
The sudden rush of Israel and Egypt to embrace Mahmoud Abbas as the grand savior has disastrous implications for the future. Why Netanyahu wants to be put into a position in which he is beholden to Abbas is beyond comprehension.
Can Abbas be trusted? Of course not; it was only a few months ago that Abbas embraced Hamas, and let us not forget that during all the weeks of this war Abbas has never disavowed Hamas.
And will Hamas really let Fatah take over the crossing? That seems completely inconceivable. On the issue of money, Hamas has been generating a huge portion of its income from the “tax” it places on all smuggled goods coming into Gaza–and if the Rafah Crossing replaces the smuggling tunnels, well…you get the picture. Of course with Qatari, Turkish, European, and American money set to flow into Gaza, Hamas does not really need the smuggling tax to fill its coffers or the pockets of Hamas “officials”.
However, in the end, this is less about money than about power. Gaza is Hamas’ fiefdom. It will not readily cede power to anyone, much less Fatah that it looks on as having done nothing to serve the Palestinian “resistance”.
2. There will be another prisoner swap. In return for the body parts of our two soldiers (at the risk of stating the gruesomely obvious, it appears that Hamas has their heads), Israel will release either the prisoners it has captured since the war began, the re-arrested Shalit prisoners, or the final batch of prisoners that was never released to Mahmoud Abbas.
Whatever the case, it is just another situation in which Israel does not learn from the history of previous disastrous prisoner exchanges–each of which has come back to haunt this country.